While triple-A video game publishers tend to hide their sales data with great vengeance and raging anger, Indies have become quite liberal about their statistics. You don’t have to look far to find a smaller game studio coughing up sales figures or even piracy estimates.
In case of punch club game maker TinyBuild, the development team went one step further than usual on Monday with a news story that connected the dots between game sales, game piracy, and localization. What happens country by country after a game’s text has been translated and it has been officially launched and promoted?
TinyBuild found that piracy’s most intense impact came the day it launched punch club in Brazilian Portuguese. On that day, the developers tracked a whopping 11,627 illegal users of Brazilian IP addresses, compared to just 373 sold to Brazilian users that day. Conversely, Alex Nichiporchik, CEO of TinyBuild, noted that Chinese players were already massively pirated the game when the game launched in English, meaning they weren’t waiting for a localized version to dive in.
On the other hand, German and French translations resulted in a “purchased rather than illegally obtained” percentage of 46 percent and 18.8 percent, respectively (with US players splitting the difference at 26.2 percent). Nichiporchik said data was reason enough to keep focusing on the translations of certain regions: “punch club clearly shows that localizing games to Western European languages pays off and has a very low piracy rate.”
Additionally, punch club‘s announced piracy statistics far exceed official sales figures, with an estimate of 1.6 million unpaid copies compared to sales of more than 300,000 copies across PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android. Nichiporchik noted that 90 percent of pirated mobile copies were downloaded by Android users, even though twice as many computer users pirated across the PC/Mac/Linux spectrum. In an interview with Ars, Nichiporchik confirmed that “analytics were so built into the game” that even pirated and “cracked” copies would still report stats to TinyBuild, which he used to report his piracy estimates.
With the exception of super-big studios using intense, terrifying forms of DRM, most game makers are still subject to the reality of unpaid game file sharing. But even with those stats, TinyBuild didn’t pen its post with anti-pirate judgments or calls to stop selling DRM-free copies of its games. Instead, the post’s focus seemed to be on sharing with other developers how best to target their development efforts to reward regions more likely to pay for that extra mile of language localization.